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Half-century of service: Eugene Brewer marks 50 years with Connecticut congregation

Eugene Brewer (Photo by Cloe Poisson, Hartford Courant, via www.courant.com)

The Hartford Courant in Connecticut reports:

MANCHESTER— Seeking a place to sow the conservative faith he had embraced from childhood, an Oklahoma farmer’s son came to this Connecticut mill town 50 years ago.

Only one Church of Christ congregation existed in the Land of Steady Habits in 1961 (in West Hartford), and Eugene Brewer had been told what to expect from the cold and reticent Yankees.
“I had heard all the scare stories from others how people here were withdrawn and not interested in making changes in their religious lives,” Brewer, 84, said in a recent interview.
But the stories weren’t true. In some ways, Brewer said, Connecticut people were more open to a spiritual life modeled on the early Christian church than many Southerners who thought they knew what the Church of Christ was all about and wanted nothing to do with it.

Read the full story and see a photo essay.
The Manchester Church of Christ is celebrating its 50th anniversary Sept. 10 and 11.
Brewer and his wife, Barbara, moved to Manchester in 1961 to plant the church, which began with 17 adults and 13 children and has grown to 300 members. Gene Brewer served as minister until 1992 and as an elder from 1973 to 2003.
“Gene has been a very prominent figure in the Northeast for the last 50 years,” member Mary Brown told The Christian Chronicle.
Brewer shared these reflections on the history of the Manchester church:

“The Church of Christ in Manchester had its beginning in the hearts and minds of my wife Barbara and I while we were living in Stamford, TX serving the  church in that town in 1958. There was clearly a need for a congregation in the Manchester, Connecticut  area. Upon consulting with the church in West Hartford, we learned that this church agreed on the need.
“Plans began to be formulated to establish the church in September of 1961. The use of the Orange Lodge Hall on East Center Street was obtained, and this leap of faith became a reality when a group of thirty people from the West Hartford church met for the first service there on Sunday, September 10, thus forming the church in Manchester consisting of 17 baptized believers and 13 children. In the months and years following, through diligent work and prayer, others were added
until it reached its present size of some 300 members.
“After constructing our own building on Lydall Street and enlarging it twice, it became necessary to construct and move into a new and larger building on Tolland Turnpike that will accommodate 450 people.
“Elders were first appointed to oversee and guide the church in 1973, and deacons were ordained to serve under them the following year. I served the church as the minister and an elder until I retired from full-time ministry in 1992. I was succeeded as preaching minister by Raul Fonseca and then by Charles Wilson. Arnold Holmes assumed the role of minister in 1998, a position he has continued to fill to the present.
“No other church in the Northeast has had the stable history that has characterized the Manchester church, and this is largely the result of a sound Bible-centered educational program. This, combined with a consistently sound pulpit ministry, has carried us to this point, and it will continue to move us forward into the bright future that I see ahead of us.
May God help us never to lose sight of our past as we enjoy our present and relish the prospect of God’s tomorrow.”
Eugene Brewer, Manchester, Connecticut

  • Feedback
    In 1961 there were very few congregation but the Lord heard our prayers and sent some wonderful men to teach us His Word correctly. Thank you, Gene for all your faithfulness to teaching and preaching and being a example. I used to worship in Leominster, MA and knew Gene. I would love to list all the men that have influenced the New England area but I am sure I would leave some out some I had better not try to list them.
    Dawn Zwicker Lowe
    September, 1 2011

    Gene is certainly one of the driving forces for the growth of the Church in New England. Congratulations and many thanks for his half century of faithful service.
    Gerry Millette Sr.
    September, 1 2011

    Congratulations to Eugene and to the church in Manchester. When I preached in Schenectady, NY we had Eugene for a series of sermons. It has been a long time ago and he and the church have certainly anchored the work of the Lord in New England.
    Andy Ritchie
    September, 1 2011

    This man is a legend in the Northeast. From my growing up years in Springfield, Vermont in the late 1960’s the name Eugene Brewer meant something positive. He has impacted the Northeast. I thank God for this visionary leader and hard worker for decades. And, he is finishing strong! To God be all the glory.
    Dan Cooper
    September, 1 2011

    Gene Brewer and the Manchester church have had a great impact on New England and on the borders of heaven. Gene also influenced my life and I will always be grateful. Thanks Christian Chronicle for recognizing this great man of faith and his work!
    Gene Britton
    September, 1 2011

    I had the privilege of working with Bro. Brewer as an intern for my preaching degree from Oklahoma Christian University. I spent 4 months working with him at Manchester in the summer of 1983. I first met him when he came to Crowley’s Ridge College for a missions workshop. At that time he recruited students to work with Tidal River Christian Camp. Congratulations.
    Johnny D. Hinton
    September, 1 2011

    A great story of faith. God bless you brother Brewer.
    Orion Mitchell
    September, 2 2011

    It is good to read about a preacher who has had such a positive influnce for good. Brother Brewer’s preaching shows us that people wll listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    joe connell
    September, 2 2011

    Well, Gene, I had no idea what had happened to you! Glad to hear of your great work. If you can remember that far back, I was from Electra and and was preaching at Rule around your time in Stamford. I’m still preaching full time.
    in Him,
    Arles Vandiver, Min.
    September, 12 2011

    We NEED strong Christians here in New England. I definitely encourage missionary work up here. Thank you Mr. Brewer!!! Remember the Old Paths!!!
    Don Gartman
    December, 1 2011

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